Saturday 23 September 2017

SEAT Arona: 'Easy to access, good driving position, plenty of room for a few of thousand more than a supermini'

First look: SEAT Arona

SEAT Arona
SEAT Arona
SEAT Arona interior
SEAT Arona

Eddie Cunningham, Barcelona

ALL of a sudden, SEAT has gone from languishing with just a couple of small models to competing in several larger-motor sectors.

The Ateca SUV started the roll into uncharted territory. And now comes the smaller Arona SUV.

Next year there will be a larger seven-seater Crossover (to be produced in Wolfsburg, VW's home).

They are promising six new cars - some with electric and hybrid powertrains - within the next three years.

It's a gigantic turnaround, but it is not before its time after years of buyers going elsewhere to get larger and more varied means of transport. The latest to expand the current line-up is the Ateca's baby brother, the Arona. A rival for the Renault Captur (and not a million miles from looking like it in some respects) and Nissan Juke (nothing looks like it), it joins the ranks of crossovers in the hottest sector in the business. People can't get enough of these cars.

The Arona arrives in Ireland in November - for January purchase - and I reckon it will (has to?) start at under the €20,000 mark. That's start-off price territory for most rivals.

And if the pricing strategy of the Ateca is repeated, this could really shake things up for cost-conscious buyers.

I also understand it will be particularly well-specced (usual trim levels S, SE, Xcellence/FR). The SE trim level is forecast to be the biggest seller and, as such, should have the 8in touchscreen (same as the new Ibiza), which is a real focus in a smart, roomy cabin (surprising knee and headroom room behind too). Xcellence and FR models will cost the same but have different trim elements.

One move away from tradition will be a series of equipment packs, which will make it easier to pick and choose what you want, rather than having to take what's built in to different trims.

Based on the platform that gives us the new Ibiza (unveiled in Ireland tomorrow by the way), the Arona is classic new-world Crossover with a striking front and side contours that sweep and lift in typical fashion.

There will be a good mix of petrol and diesel engines. Petrols will include the VW Group 3cyl 1-litre (95/115bhp) and 1.5litre 150bhp, while the diesels will comprise two versions (95bhp/115bhp) of the 1.6-litre.

The new suspension gives better ground clearance and a slightly higher look, while the car itself is among the lightest in its class (1,000kg).

We're also promised loads of connectivity (hence the importance of that smart looking central 8in touchscreen).

Safety technology trickles down from larger sectors and includes semi-automatic parking.

You might think it is a young person's car, but I see lots of empty nesters looking for a motor like this too: easy to access, good driving position, plenty of room (decent boot) for a couple of thousand more than a specced-up supermini. That's a key attraction of these small SUVs. And the Arona is the latest to show how it works.

Irish Independent

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